This story out of London, I must admit, made me giggle. How many of us have unfortunately received an unwanted whiff of smelly feet? I have and it’s gross, but apparently smelly socks are joining the fight against malaria. Yes, socks may help fight the most dangerous mosquito-borne disease.
In a recent lab study, mosquitoes were introduced to smelly dirty socks. The mosquitoes that were infected and were carrying malaria were more attracted to the odor than those without the disease. In fact, they were three times more likely to be attracted to the smelly socks.
So what does it mean? As Dr. James Logan of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine explains, “every time we identify a new part of how the malaria mosquito interacts with us, we’re one step closer to controlling it better.” Source.
Up until this point, scientists didn’t know if carrying malaria made a mosquito more attracted to humans. This research, proved that. The hope is that traps can be created to target malaria mosquitoes using their sense of smell. By using smell as the trigger, scientists believe it would be difficult for the pests to avoid traps. Andrew Reed, a professor of biology and entomology at the University of Pennsylvania, explains that “the only way mosquitoes could (develop resistance) is if they were less attracted to human odors. And if they did that and started feeding on something else, that would be fine.” Source.
The next step in researching and developing a trap is to synthetically reproduce the foot odor, which has to be just right. Mosquitoes have very keen senses of smell so extensive testing will be needed to pinpoint the chemicals that attract them and the create the right balance.
Mosquitoes are the most deadly animal on earth due to the number of disease they transmit through their bites. Malaria, in particular, is estimated to kill 600,000 people a year. Most of those deaths take place in Africa. What a lot of people don’t realize is that malaria is both preventable and treatable. At Mosquito Squad, we do our part in helping fight malaria through our partnership with Malaria No More. Malaria No More is a nonprofit whose goal is to stop malaria deaths in Africa. They raise awareness and funds to help provide protective bed nets, malaria tests and malaria treatments.
For many of us in the United States, we weren’t alive or remember a time when malaria was an issue in our country, but it was. The Centers for Disease Control was first created with the goal of eradicating malaria from the US. Insecticide was sprayed by airplanes as well as around homes and by the beginning of the 1950s, malaria was no longer considered an issue in the United States.
While our pest control company locations help fight mosquitoes and the diseases they carry here, we are always following the latest news on what is happening in the fight to end malaria. If you would like to learn more about malaria and Malaria No More, please visit their website. You can help fight malaria by donating at SwatMalaria.net.